Beyond Brushstrokes

The Duchess of Windsor once remarked, “A woman’s life can really be a succession of lives, each revolving around some emotionally compelling situation or challenge, and each marked off by some intense experience.”
The story of the Duke of Windsor, former King Edward VIII, who abdicated his throne for the woman he loved, is probably one of the most romantic in the 20th Century.
An individual’s life is more than one continuous story. It is a book with chapters and short episodes. For some, it is a series of experiences, several books with different volumes. A mélange of contrasting and contradictory emotions, actions and reactions with ripple effects that affect other lives as well.
One’s faith, courage and resilience may be tested — repeatedly. It could be a debilitating illness, the loss of one’s home, one’s center of gravity. It could be a job displacement, a sudden change in career, early retirement, financial collapse, a tragedy in the family, or the loss of the beloved.
In traditional society, man has always been considered the adventurer, hunter, provider, head of the family, favored heir, the beloved child of the mother and father. Woman, in contrast, is the nurturer, supportive spouse and sister, mother and caregiver. Her role has been limited to stereotypes that diminish instead of enhance her true capabilities and diverse talents.
For the woman who is a survivor, an ironic twist of fate, a trauma in her succession of “lives” makes her stronger and braver as she passes various tests of fire. Like a diamond that is polished by heat and pressure, her brilliance is seen as a prism of light.

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Ten years ago, a writer-artist had a turning point and began a second life.
A car crash, that could have been fatal happened. Suddenly, there was a jolting impact, a deafening crunch of metal against metal and concrete. Steam and smoke, dust and a loud sizzle. The car hit two parked motorbikes and a brick wall.
Chest pain. Blinding bright light. It was noontime on the last day of the year.
The air bags popped were deflated balloons on the steering wheel and the dashboard. The young boy woke up from his nap. Luckily, he had his seat belt on and was sitting at the back. (There had been a warning for him to put it on just 10 minutes earlier.) Dazed, they stumbled of the crumpled car and cracked windshield and steaming radiator — without any scratches. No visible injuries. No casualties. Nobody else was hurt.
There was pain in the chest from the impact that made breathing, coughing and laughing difficult. A few hours later, after the police report and interminable wait, they found a clinic which happened to be open on a holiday. The X-ray showed no rib fractures.
It was an incredible miracle to have survived that accident. The guardian angel made the car veer right — to the safe shoulder of the road. Instead of going to the left where there could have been a head-on collision with a bus. The crash happened on the national highway (not on the expressway) with heavy moving traffic — at a slow speed of 10 km/hr.
Angels in the form of old and new friends and strangers came to the rescue, arranged for towing, and drove them to their destination by the sea.
That night was New Year’s Eve. A dazzling display of fireworks blazed in the sky. The family watched from a balcony overlooking the bay. Amidst the exploding fireworks, brilliant against the indigo sky, the cool breezes from the sea and the exuberant laughter of kids, they said a profound prayer of gratitude.
It was a dreamlike mystery, a case of Divine protection. The driver was wearing the medallion relic of St. Marie Eugenie Milleret, R.A.
The lingering chest pain was healed on the second Sunday of January, the feast of the baptism of Jesus by St. John the Baptist.
After Mass on the open field, the gifted healing priest blessed and touched the forehead of the writer. The energy from his hand was electrifying. It caused her to fall backwards. In two hours, the pain slowly vanished.
A “head first” fall from a horse happened two years ago. Losing consciousness for a few minutes meant a form of head injury. Again, the guardian angel caught her as she plunged to the ground. The sturdy helmet and a rosary protected her. A pair of riders and a nurse revived her. The ambulance came and angels in the form of doctors surrounded her. A series of neurological tests and x-rays revealed a mild concussion and bruises. It was another small miracle.
She had helped a badly injured rider some 14 years ago. He survived despite the skull fracture and bleeding. And that gesture reaped good karma.
The young boy has grown into a fine gentleman, a graduate who is on the verge of starting his own life.
The past years had been a series of crises, roller coaster ups and downs with agonizing upheavals and excruciating revelations. Fortunately, there always remained a strong faith and the spiritual grace to sustain the inner journey of solitude.
The psychic and physical pains have been transformed into a gift — a new life with new blessings.
There are no coincidences in this world.
Synchronicity and serendipity.
Every day is precious. We should always be grateful.
Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.